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First Look at Carbon Capture and Storage in a West Virginia Coal-Fired Power Plant [Slide Show]

The world's first power facility to capture and store a portion of its carbon dioxide has begun operating in Appalachia

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CLEANER COAL?:

Capturing CO2 from all that coal burning is vital to any efforts to combat climate change, according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other experts. The unit at Mountaineer is one of at least 14 projects around the world aiming to make carbon capture and storage technologically and economically viable.....[ More ]

COAL POWER:

The U.S. and China together burn more than four billion metric tons of coal annually, and Mountaineer consumes 3.5 million metric tons in a typical year—10 to 12 barge loads a day—some of which is transported by train from as far away as the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.....[ More ]

CLEAN COAL?:

The carbon-capture-and-storage unit at Mountaineer eliminates roughly 1.5 percent of the carbon dioxide the plant would otherwise emit.  And other issues remain, such as the ash visible in the storage ponds for the Philip Sporn Power Plant in the background.....[ More ]

SMALL DEMO:

A prior demonstration with a smaller unit at the Pleasant Prairie power plant in Wisconsin proved that the chilled-ammonia technology could capture more than 90 percent of the CO2 from just under two megawatts' worth of flue gas.....[ More ]

ELECTRIC FUTURE?:

Plug-in hybrids, like the one pictured here, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from transportation, particularly when recharged by no- or low-emitting sources of electricity, such as coal-fired power plants with carbon capture and storage.....[ More ]

DEEP STORAGE:

The captured CO2 is stored more than two and a half kilometers underground in the pores between the grains of rock that make up sandstone, which is usually filled with brine. Intervening layers of shale and limestone should also keep the CO2 from leaking back to the surface.....[ More ]

INJECTION WELL:

Liquid CO2 flows down 2,450 meters through this wellhead, dubbed AEP 1.....[ More ]

PUMP HOUSE:

Closer to the injection wells at the Mountaineer Power Plant site, the liquid CO2's pressure is raised to more than 140 kilograms per square centimeter in these compressors.....[ More ]

UNDER PRESSURE:

The nearly pure CO2 (mixed with some water) is pressurized to roughly 98 kilograms per square centimeter to become a milky fluid.....[ More ]

REGENERATION:

The ammonium bicarbonate is pumped to these tall, thin reaction towers where steam is added to raise the temperature and pressure. That increase drives its transformation back to pure CO2, which is separated out.....[ More ]

CARBON CAPTURE:

The cooled flue gas enters the central, wide column (pictured here) at Mountaineer. Inside the tall tank, a slurry of ammonium carbonate—better known as baker's ammonia—pulls 90 percent or more of the CO2 out of the flue gas by chemically reacting to form ammonium bicarbonate.....[ More ]

COLD CAPTURE:

Flue gas from coal burning is cooled from roughly 150 degrees Celsius out of the boiler to 55 degrees C after going through various cleaning processes. It is further cooled to less than 20 degrees C before entering the carbon-capture unit—as laid out here for a carbon-capture demonstration at the Pleasant Prairie power plant in Wisconsin.....[ More ]

COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE:

The carbon-capture unit, dwarfed by the smokestack and cooling tower, employs Alstom's "chilled ammonia" technology to remove more than 90 percent of the carbon dioxide from 20 megawatt's worth of emissions—or 1.5 percent of the plant's total CO2 output.....[ More ]

FUTURE OF COAL?:

The Mountaineer Power Plant (pictured here) is the first in the world to capture some of the carbon dioxide it emits from burning 3.5 million tons of coal yearly and sequester it two and a half kilometers underground.....[ More ]

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